Award-winning composer, world music artist and peace activist Yuval Ron shares a chapter from his upcoming book, Divine Attunement: Music as a Path to Wisdom, to be published by Oracle Institute Press in 2014. Read excerpts below or click here to read the full chapter on “Sacred Ecstasy.”
You are there, standing among several indigenous men and women whom you have never met. Everyone around you is drumming and chanting. The drumbeat is tantalizing; it feels so good to be a part of such a group. The collective group’s presence slowly overwhelms your individuality. As the beat gets faster and faster, you and everyone around you stop thinking, stop being aware of time, stop being aware of who – you think – you are. And the rhythms and vocal chants drive everybody into an ecstatic trance where there is no self-consciousness or judgment.
Then gradually, the music slows down and fades. You are physically and emotionally exhausted, yet your senses are so sharp, you feel more alive and awake than ever before! You look around, and in a magical way, all your fellow drummers seem simply beautiful. There is a certain smile in their eyes and a misty light over their faces. You feel an intimacy and closeness to them, something you never could have imagined feeling just an hour ago, before the ecstatic drumming began.
In a sacred, ecstatic state of mind, we feel connected to all living things. We feel that we are within all of creation, and that all of creation is within us. Some might cry out at such moment, “God is in me!” as some Sufi saints have expressed. But the words are not important; we may call Source anything we like. A deep sense of the unity of all things is what we are seeking – not an intellectual understanding of the idea of unity. It is a gut feeling, a sensation, a perception. Yet, is this a true perception or just another illusion?
The mystics of old have been saying for centuries and in various terms that the unity of all things is the true reality. They have insisted that we do exist beyond our bodies. Isn’t it fascinating that recent research is now confirming that our brain neurons actually reach beyond our bodies, connect with, convey information to, and affect living things outside of our bodies!
The implications of such neurological studies are far reaching and support the mystic’s assertion that we are inseparable from all creation. If we truly feel that we and the “other” are one, if we truly love the “other” as we love ourselves, then peace would be the natural consequence. Having gained this comprehension, we would never dump toxic waste in our neighbor’s yard, we would be generous with a stranger, and we would never unleash violence in a distant part of the world. That is the essence of the ancient Great Commandment: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Even though the concept that “you are everything” is extremely difficult for many of us to truly internalize, there are numerous ways to experience it. Within ancient shamanic wisdom, it is told that music and ecstatic movement can move us outside of ourselves so that we may reach an altered state of mind – a state of sacred ecstasy – the same goal of ecstatic rituals and celebrations conducted by Hassidic Jews, Sufi Muslims, and Pentecostal Christians.
With music, the journey to an ecstatic experience typically starts with a dark, intimate, and introspective tone. Both the Sufi and the Hassid begin with a slow and pleading musical melody, almost a lament; but, it is actually the sensation of longing that the music evokes. The foundation for this quest is the human condition of separation. The soul is captured in a physical body in a physical world, yearning for Spirit, pleading for Union, aching to reach the Source of life – the powerful energy that is behind everything. The musical modes (i.e., the musical note combinations) that are used in the Turkish Sufi and Hassidic Jewish traditions share some striking similarities. Both paths employ modes that express pain and longing but – when sped up – evolve into powerful and joyful musical expressions.
Join Yuval Ron from March 28-30 for a weekend of healing and consciousness altering through the sacred sound, music, and dance based on the ancient teaching of Zen-Buddhism, Kabbalistic-Judaism, Gnostic-Christianity, and Sufi-Islam. For more information on this powerful retreat, click here.
Yuval Ron and friends will also be hosting a concert in Boulder on March 27. Read more here.